In the wake of escalating tensions between Israel and Hamas, India’s stance on the Israel-Palestine issue has come into sharp focus. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) recently reaffirmed India’s unwavering support for the establishment of an independent and sovereign state of Palestine, emphasizing the nation’s consistent and long-standing position on this sensitive matter.
India’s relationship with Palestine dates back to the pre-independence era. Historically, India has always championed the Palestinian cause at international forums, advocating for their rights and voicing concerns against any form of oppression. This commitment stems from India’s broader principles of anti-colonialism, solidarity with oppressed peoples, and a belief in a two-state solution.
Arindam Bagchi, the official spokesperson for the MEA, in a recent press conference, stated, “Our policy has been longstanding and consistent. India has always advocated the resumption of direct negotiations towards establishing a sovereign, independent, and viable state of Palestine, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side at peace with Israel.”
This statement is particularly significant given the recent rocket attacks initiated by the Palestinian group Hamas on Israel on October 7.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been actively building stronger ties with Israel during his tenure, addressed the Israel-Hamas conflict on two occasions.
While he condemned the “terrorist attack” on Israel by Hamas, he also emphasized the importance of peace and dialogue in the region. In a telephone conversation with Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Modi expressed solidarity with Israel during these challenging times, highlighting the deep-rooted ties between the two nations.
The ongoing conflict has raised significant humanitarian concerns, with civilians on both sides bearing the brunt of the hostilities. When questioned about the humanitarian situation in Israel and Gaza, Bagchi highlighted the universal obligation to adhere to humanitarian law. He further emphasized the global responsibility to combat terrorism in all its manifestations, underscoring the importance of peace and stability in the region.
In response to the escalating conflict, the MEA announced ‘Operation Ajay,’ a dedicated initiative to safely repatriate Indian citizens from Israel. The first flight under this operation, carrying several Indian nationals, has already landed in India. Bagchi revealed that approximately 18,000 Indians are currently in Israel, with one individual reported injured amidst the hostilities. He assured that the injured citizen is receiving medical care and is on the path to recovery. Additionally, a small number of Indians are in Gaza and the West Bank, and efforts are underway to ensure their safety and potential evacuation.
India’s stance on the Israel-Palestine issue has broader implications for its foreign policy and its role in the Middle East. While India has developed closer ties with Israel, especially in defense and technology sectors, it continues to uphold its commitment to the Palestinian cause. This balanced approach is reflective of India’s broader strategy of multi-alignment, where it maintains relationships with multiple global powers without being tied down to any particular bloc.
Furthermore, India’s position is also indicative of its aspirations for a more significant role in global peacekeeping and conflict resolution. As one of the largest contributors to United Nations peacekeeping missions and a contender for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, India’s stance on global conflicts is closely watched by the international community.
The Israel-Palestine issue is one of the most protracted and complex conflicts in modern history. As tensions escalate, the international community, including India, plays a crucial role in advocating for peace, dialogue, and a two-state solution. India’s recent reaffirmation of its support for an independent Palestine, coupled with its efforts to ensure the safety of its citizens in the region, underscores its commitment to peace, justice, and international law.